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ECOSOC ADOPTS TEXT ON QUADRENNIAL COMPREHENSIVE POLICY REVIEW OF OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS
Holds General Discussion on Operational Activities of the United Nations for International Development Cooperation
12 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this morning adopted a resolution on progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system and closed its Operational Activities Segment.  At the beginning of the meeting, ECOSOC held a general discussion on the operational activities of the United Nations for international development cooperation.

In the resolution (E/2013/L.17), ECOSOC requested the United Nations funds and programmes and strongly encouraged the specialized agencies with operational activities for development to fully align their strategic plans with the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, taking into account their respective mandates.  It urged donor countries and other countries in a position to do so to maintain and substantially increase their voluntary contributions, in a manner consistent with their capacities, to the core/regular budgets of the United Nations development system, in particular its funds, programmes and specialized agencies, and to contribute on a multi-year basis, in a sustained and predictable manner.  It requested the Secretary-General to report on progress and challenges in implementing independent system-wide evaluations of United Nations operational activities for development.

In the general discussion, speakers said that the quadrennial comprehensive policy review was very important because it reaffirmed fundamental principles of operational activities and provided detailed guidelines for development, and were pleased by the evidence presented this week of the commitment to its implementation.  Achieving their common objectives, such as the eradication of poverty, required a coherent and effective United Nations development system, and the quadrennial comprehensive policy review constituted a solid basis for that.  Much more was needed to ensure its full implementation and a coherent framework for monitoring and reporting on implementation was crucial in that regard.  Poverty eradication was identified as the biggest challenge worldwide and this should be at the core of work undertaken.  Core and non-core funding were important to the financial stability of agencies.  Numerous speakers emphasised the importance of strengthening the core budget of the United Nations development system and concern was expressed about the serious imbalance between the resources available to the system.

Speaking in the general discussion were Fiji on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Lithuania on behalf of the European Union, Australia on behalf of Canada and Australia, Cuba on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, United States of America, Indonesia, Brazil, Belarus, India, Albania, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania, China, Uruguay, Mexico, Germany, Iran, Morocco and Gabon. 

Ferit Hoxha, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, in concluding remarks said that deliberations had made it clear that shifting from being primarily a project-based organization to one focusing on strengthening capacity of national institutions was a priority on the agenda of the United Nations development system.  Member States had a responsibility to ensure the implementation of the resolution, and decision-making processes back in the capitals should also work in that direction.  This segment had shown that Member States wanted to see further action in strengthening State institutions and capacities and in the full implementation of the delivering-as-one approach.

ECOSOC also took note of the following documents: Report of the Secretary-General on the analysis of funding of operational activities for development of the United Nations system for 2011 (A/68/97-E/2013/87); Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system, circulated by the Secretariat in an informal paper; note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report on policy for independent system-wide evaluation of operational activities for development of the United Nations system, circulated by the Secretariat in an informal paper; Report of the UNDP/UNFPA/UNOPS on its work during 2012 (E/2012/35); Report of the administrator of UNDP and of the Executive Directors of UNFPA to the Economic and Social Council (E/2013/5); Annual report of the Executive Director of UNICEF to the Economic and Social Council (E/2013/6); Annual report of WFP for 2012 (E/2013/14); Reports of the Executive Board of UNICEF on the work of its first regular session of 2013 (E/2013/34 Part I/Add.1/Part II/Rev.1); Report of the Executive Board of WFP on the first and second regular sessions and annual session of 2012 (E/2013/36); Extract from the report of the Executive Board of UNICEF on its 2013 annual session: Decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its annual session of 2013 (E/2013/L.12); and Note by the Secretariat on the operational activities of United Nations-Women (E/2013/48).

The Economic and Social Council will resume its work on Monday, 15 July, at 10 a.m., when it is scheduled to start its segment on humanitarian affairs and to hear the report of the Secretary-General on humanitarian affairs, presented by the Under-Secretary-General for humanitarian affairs.

Resolution on Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review of Operational Activities for Development of the United Nations System

In a resolution on progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution
67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities for development of the United Nations system (E/2013/L.17), adopted by consensus as orally revised, the Economic and Social Council requests the United Nations funds and programmes and strongly encourages the specialized agencies with operational activities for development to fully align their strategic plans with the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, taking into account their respective mandates; requests the United Nations funds and programmes to consolidate their current annual reporting on the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review within their reporting on the implementation of their strategic plans, and to provide a thorough analysis, including through the selection and use of common indicators that are fully aligned with the monitoring framework for the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, to their executive boards and to the Council, with a view to ensuring its full implementation;

reiterates that core resources, because of their untied nature, continue to be the bedrock of the operational activities for development of the United Nations system and recognizes the need for organizations to address the imbalance between core and non-core resources; urges donor countries and other countries in a position to do so to maintain and substantially increase their voluntary contributions, in a manner consistent with their capacities, to the core/regular budgets of the United Nations development system, in particular its funds, programmes and specialized agencies, and to contribute on a multi-year basis, in a sustained and predictable manner; requests the United Nations development system at the country level to ensure alignment of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework period with the Government’s planning cycle, wherever possible, as part of the overall efforts to fully align the United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks with national priorities and needs; requests the United Nations funds and programmes and strongly encourages the specialized agencies to further strengthen their participation in the resident coordinator system and the management and accountability system, including in the areas of information sharing, performance assessment and the “functional firewall”;

requests the Secretary-General to report, as part of the regular reporting, on steps taken to improve the overall effectiveness of the resident coordinator system, including in accordance with paragraphs 124 to 127 of General Assembly resolution 67/226; requests the Secretary-General, in cooperation with the United Nations system, to report on progress in the implementation of the standard operating procedures through the annual reporting on the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review; requests the Secretary-General, consistent with paragraphs 152 and 155 of General Assembly resolution 67/226, to ensure adequate and evidenced-based planning and design of common United Nations service centres, by including in plans, for review by the Economic and Social Council in 2014, concrete proposals for pilot centres in consenting programme countries that duly represent the diversity of the United Nations presence in all the regions;

requests the United Nations funds and programmes and strongly encourages the specialized agencies to take further measures to ensure that the country programmes of individual entities, including common country programme documents or country programming frameworks, include complete results chains that are aligned with the respective outcomes agreed to in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and respective organization-wide results frameworks of each entity, in line with national needs and priorities; and requests the Secretary-General, as part of the regular reporting on the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, to report on progress and challenges in implementing independent system-wide evaluations of United Nations operational activities for development.

General Discussion on Operational Activities of the United Nations for International Development Cooperation

FERIT HOXHA, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, informed the Council that since the eighteenth session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation would be held in 2014, therefore, the review of the Committee’s report would take place in 2014.

Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review was very important because it reaffirmed fundamental principles of operational activities and provided detailed guidelines for development.  The United Nations development system, through the Secretariat, must provide Member States with a coherent and unified monitoring framework incorporating the inputs of programme countries and all agencies with operational activities for the review of the Council and the General Assembly.

Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the review of existing funding modalities in support of the Resident Coordinator System conducted by the Development Group and urged all funds and programmes to implement the cost-sharing arrangement in support of the Resident Coordinator System starting in 2014.  Much more needed to be done to ensure full implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  A coherent framework for monitoring and reporting on implementation was crucial in that regard.

Australia, speaking on behalf of Australia and Canada, said that Canada and Australia had both been closely involved in the process that led to resolution 67/226 and were pleased by the evidence presented this week of the commitment to the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  The process of monitoring was expected to be as streamlined as possible.  Member States and the United Nations system had to engage in a realistic and frank dialogue about ways to improve the quality of non-core funding.

Cuba, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the principles, scope and goals which were contained in resolution 67/226 should constitute the guidelines by which the United Nations development system was organized, with the ultimate goal of improving results on the ground.  Follow-up would be one of the most important topics for discussion.  It was important to ensure better consistency between the strategic frameworks within the United Nations system and the mandates of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.

Norway said that much had to be done to enhance system wide coherence and achieve better results.  Norway welcomed that the delivering-as-one approach had become a regular way of doing business and it was a strong supporter of this modality.  It appreciated that the draft resolution to be adopted during this segment contained some measures that it was believed would help accelerate the reform process.  There was a need to increase core-funding and this was also a matter of broadening the donor base. 

Russian Federation noted that there had been a delay in the official publication of the Secretary-General’s reports, but welcomed the fact that the Secretariat had carried out comprehensive surveys both at country and at headquarters level.  All operational agencies must allow in their planning room for the full cycle of the review.   United Nations assistance was most needed in the transfer of knowledge and technology, rural development, investment growth, and ensuring food security.

Switzerland said that the High-level Political Forum would provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development.  The Council had a crucial oversight function for the implementation of those commitments.  Achieving their common objectives, such as the eradication of poverty, required a coherent and effective United Nations development system, and the quadrennial comprehensive policy review constituted a solid basis for that.  

United States said that the quadrennial comprehensive policy review had made the United Nations development system more efficient and coherent.  Evaluation and the use of evidence-based programming were the core of results-based management, and a well-managed system-wide evaluation capacity could provide a significant boost in helping agencies to deliver results.  Core and non-core funding were important to the financial stability of agencies. 

Indonesia said that the entities of the United Nations development system had to be able to demonstrate their effectiveness, efficiency and accountability in producing results and showing impacts on the ground in supporting Member States’ development efforts.  It was imperative to give the highest priority to poverty eradication in all United Nations development system sustainable development frameworks at all levels.  There was a need to further strengthen the core budget of the United Nations development system.

Brazil said that official development assistance expenditures were no match for the current global military spending and that should be reflected on.  Full implementation of the principles and goals mandated by all Member States in resolution 67/226 had to guide the workings of the United Nations development system, with an emphasis on improving results on the ground.  In the context of innovative ways of providing cooperation, it was of key importance to provide the United Nations system with flexibility.  It was fundamental to provide predictable, untied and increased access to funding.

Belarus supported the desire of the operational funds to achieve tangible results in the sphere of development and management in the context of implementing the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Belarus was in favour of developing new agreed mechanisms between the United Nations funds and agencies to cooperate with middle income countries with a view to ensuring they achieved sustainable development.  It called upon the funds and agencies to be more active in supporting global initiatives, such as the Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. 

India said that the Council was meeting at a time when political turmoil and the economic crisis were affecting many parts of the world.  It was positive, however, that the adoption of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review had provided for the first time a section exclusively dedicated to poverty eradication.  The multilateral system must now provide developing countries with the means needed to achieve their goals and must follow up on implementation mechanisms. 

Albania said that the adoption of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review was a positive development and they were already starting to see results.  Albania welcomed the finalization of the standard operating procedures for countries wishing to adopt delivering-as-one as a tool for the simplification of the process, and was pleased that the adopted resolution demonstrated the enhanced capability of the Council to monitor the implementation of the policy review.  
Nepal said that the Council should play a key coordination, follow-up and monitoring role in the full and timely implementation of the United Nations operational activities of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Nepal was deeply concerned about the continued decline of core contributions and the growing imbalance between core and non-core resources, and said that the situation must be rectified.  

South Africa said that the development of many countries depended on the support provided by the United Nations development system and it was thus important that such support was coordinated and provided in a coherent manner.  They could not achieve a coordinated and coherent United Nations development system without adequate, predictable and stable funding for operational activities.  South Africa was concerned that there was a serious imbalance between the resources available to the system.

Tanzania said that it had volunteered to pilot the delivering-as-one initiative in January 2011.  Through it, Tanzania could surely testify the importance of United Nations agencies funds and programmes working together at the country level.  This had brought a more harmonized, coordinated, efficient and effective United Nations system at the country level, which had resulted in a better use of resources and reduced duplication of activities.  Tanzania emphasized the need to continue strengthening the role of the Resident Coordinator. 

China said poverty eradication remained the biggest challenge worldwide and this should be at the core of work.  Sufficient, stable and predictable core resources were a core concern for developing countries.  The implementation of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework should be based on country ownership and leadership, conform to the strategic plan of programme countries, and maintain efficiency and flexibility in the development of projects and programmes.  South-south cooperation was a supplement, not a substitute for north-south cooperation.

Uruguay said that the delivering-as-one process had helped to strengthen the efficiency of the management of programmes and had achieved tactical decentralization.  Improved coordination with donor countries had created important new channels of communication and cooperation, which fostered the inclusion of cross-cutting issues such as gender equality in development programmes.  It was important for funding to be predictable and multi-annual. 

Mexico said that it attached great importance to the principles and objectives of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review.  Implementation of its guidelines would make it possible to strengthen the role of the Council, foster cooperation between middle-income countries and the United Nations development system, and include new actors from the global cooperation structure.  Challenges such as the lack of necessary resources required immediate attention.    

Germany said that discussions at the Council had pointed to practical steps which could make the United Nations more coherent and accountable.  Positive feedback on delivering-as-one was encouraging and showed the potential for further improvement of the standard operational procedures.  Maintaining good and empowered Resident Coordinators at the country level was crucial, so the substantive decrease in funding reported by Lao People’s Democratic Republic was alarming.  

Iran stressed that the principle of country ownership in both macro and micro programming of the United Nations related bodies’ operational activities should continue to be strictly adhered to at any stage and level of development, that they should be aligned with the mandates of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review, and the need to address imbalance between core and non-core resources for operational activities for development on the basis of the needs and priorities for programme countries. 

Morocco welcomed the progress achieved and the determination expressed by the United Nations system to implement in full resolution 67/226.  However, it expressed concern about the chronic lack of balance between the core and non-core resources.  Morocco encouraged work to achieve the critical mass and hoped this would be pursued.  In Morocco, the current United Nations Development Assistance Framework implemented a common action plan aimed at strengthening joint programming between the different United Nations funds and agencies in the country.

Gabon said that the complexity of the Organization had not always allowed Member States to fully appreciate the real support that they benefitted from.  The United Nations Development Assistance Framework in Gabon dealt with six strategic axes where the United Nations system could have impact on human rights and gender issues, to give robust, diversified and sustainable impetus, to improve economic governance to consolidate democratic governance, and to promote community development. 

Concluding Remarks

FERIT HOXHA, Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, in concluding remarks said that this segment, which had focused on a range of issues concerning the quadrennial comprehensive policy review implementation, had been highly successful.  Deliberations had made it clear that shifting from being primarily a project-based organization to one focusing on strengthening capacity of national institutions was a priority on the agenda of the United Nations development system.  While focusing on the post-2015 agenda, the unfinished business of the Millennium Development Goals should be completed, especially regarding the objective of poverty reduction, which should remain a core task of the United Nations development system.  Member States had a responsibility to ensure the implementation of the resolution, and decision-making processes back in the capitals should also work in that direction.  This segment had shown that Member States wanted to see further action in strengthening State institutions and capacities and in the full implementation of the delivering-as-one approach. 


For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/021E


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